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Bristol Bay Fishermen Donate Salmon To Yukon River Villages

Hope McKenney

Around 10,000 pounds of Bristol Bay chum and Chinook salmon are scheduled to arrive in a Lower Yukon River hub on July 23. The fish will then be distributed to surrounding villages. The donation is in response to a lack of subsistence salmon fishing on the Yukon River this summer, following record low salmon runs and tight fishing restrictions.


A nonprofit called SeaShare has partnered with commercial fish processors in Bristol Bay to donate the salmon to Lower Yukon communities. The fish will be sent to commercial fish plant Kwik’pak in Emmonak, and then distributed to 11 villages on the lower Yukon River, including Nunam Iqua, Alakanuk, Emmonak, Kotlik, Mountain Village, Pitkas Point, St. Mary’s, Pilot Station, Marshall, Russian Mission, and Holy Cross. The Association of Village Council Presidents will help Kwik’pak with a distribution plan for the fish. 


Kwik’pak General Manager Jack Schultheis said that he expects the salmon to be sent out to communities on July 26. He said that while it won’t fill freezers for the winter, at least it’s enough for a taste.

“It's a big deal to the villagers to get fish. You know, it's why they decided to live on this river, you know, it was a lot of fish in it. So we're doing what we can to just expedite this and organize it so everybody gets their fair share,” said Schultheis. 


Kwik’pak is usually a top employer for the lower Yukon each summer, but the commercial fish processor has not been able to employ workers this year due to a lack of salmon. The state has kept commercial fishing closed. The distribution of this donated fish means that Schultheis will be able to hire around 10 to 15 people for a couple of days. 


Yukon River villages farther upriver will receive a separate salmon donation from the Bristol Bay fisherman, which will be distributed through the Tanana Chiefs Conference.


Olivia Ebertz is a News Reporter for KYUK. She also works as a documentary filmmaker. She enjoys learning languages, making carbs, and watching movies.